Live Review: Gallows, Rolo Tomassi

13 06 2009

**As originally published on BBC’s Across The Line – May 2009**

Gallows have blazed a trail through the UK over the last few years, reigniting the passion of rock fans and garnering more attention than any punk band from the UK since the Sex Pistols and the Clash. They’ve been to Belfast twice before, and it’s our turn yet again, to experience the mayhem.

Before we get to the main event tonight, it’s the turn of Rolo Tomassi to get us in the mood. They’re a strange breed, these young pups. They’re noisy and jerky, starty and stoppy, there are occasional moments of respite and brief hints at melody but for the most part these guys do things their way. There’s no simple a to b to c stuff going on here like in a normal tune, they go a to p to z and back to a again, just because they can. If they were taxi drivers, they’d drive you from Belfast to Dublin and then back again, even though you just asked them to take you down the pub. They’d still only make you pay the minimum fare though, ’cause they seem like nice folk, but they take you on a helluva journey. RT are amazingly proficient technically and utterly mesmorising, leading lady Eva especially, as she goes from singing sweetly to growling terrifyingly in a split second, throwing shapes all the while. An entertaining live act but unlikely that their recorded output would warrant repeated listens, as it ain’t exactly catchy…

Gallows kick things off with recent single ‘The Vulture (Act II)’. During the intro, Frank is bouncing up and down, hoodie on with hood up; he looks like a boxer getting ready to enter the ring. It couldn’t be more fitting. After about 27 seconds we’ve already have our first crowd-surfer of the night, and half way through the second song, ‘Come Friendly Bombs’, we’ve got another one but this time they’re heading in the opposite direction – it’s Frank who has launched himself off the stage, practically walked across the heads of the crowd and made it the whole way to the seated area facing the stage. This guy is nuts. Two songs in and they’ve set the scene for the evening, no-one is safe from the action tonight, no standing at the back with a quiet pint, Gallows are here to get in your face. Look lively.

For one night only, third song ‘London Is The Reason’ is re-named ‘Belfast Is The Reason’; the crowd lap it up, singing the new lyrics along with Frank at every opportunity. Frank is hanging off the rafters now, still hooded, still singing along. He’s like an over-active kid running around in a restaurant. Except older, not as irritating, a lot scarier and in a bar.

Not even the staff are safe tonight, as next stop is the bar for Frank, who stops mid-song to pour himself a pint before hopping on the shoulders of a bouncer and getting a piggy-back to the stage, pint in hand. “That’s what it’s all about, stealing a pint from the bar when you don’t even f**king drink”. Now, that’s punk.

Mid-way through the set, the band ask for the floor lights to be turned on so that they can see the crowd before requesting a circle pit. There ain’t much space in the Limelight but the crowd duely oblige as best they can. Next, they are joined on stage by Eva from Rolo Tomassi who shares vocal duties with Frank for a song, like a hardcore Sonny and Cher, and it works brilliantly.

The set continues and the songs keep coming, including ‘Black Eyes’, dedicated to politicians and the catchiest track from their new album (possibly a future single?), old favourites ‘In The Belly Of A Shark’ and ‘Abandon Ship’ and several more, before ending with ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’, before which Frank declares “I don’t want to have to sing a word of this song because I’m f**king sick of it”. The crowd clearly aren’t though, as they scream every word right back, regardless.

Of course, the night isn’t quite over yet as Belfast’s usual post-gig chant of “one more tuuuuuune” gets Gallows back for that one which is closer from the new album, ‘Crucif**ks’. It’s storming and intense, just like the rest.

Gallows tore the Limelight up tonight. They’re an incendiary live act and one of the most impressive, and most important bands in the UK at the moment. Very few bands show the raw energy, aggression and passion that these guys do. After 12 rounds with Frank and co, the crowd are definitely the winners but we’ve all taken a beating. Vicious, violent, aggressive, brilliant. See Gallows now, before they come looking for you.